And there will be only one woman in Chile's presidential election on November 21. Coming from the North of the country, from the Atacama region, former minister, senator and from one of the native ethnic groups. Yasna Provoste, among eight male candidates, will represent the center-left and the political bloc called New Social Pact, which groups seven of the eight parties that made up the now defunct Constituent Unity. The tiny Progressive Party was excluded when its leader, Marco Enríquez-Ominami, surprisingly announced his fourth presidential candidacy. This new coalition is an alliance between Christian Democrats and Social Democrats, like the one that existed at the beginning of democracy, in 1990, extended to small parties and movements. Provoste, a DC militant, won widely in the 16 regions of the country in the citizen consultation carried out last August 21, after the sector could not participate -due to the veto interposed by the left- in the legal primary elections, financed by the electoral authority, which took place on July 18. The winner obtained 60.8% of the votes, followed by another woman, Paula Narváez, PS, with 26.6% and in third place came Carlos Maldonado, PR, who obtained 12.5%. The result was positive for the political leaders of the center-left parties, who in 20 days managed to organize an election that gave full legitimacy to the winner. However, the result was overshadowed by the meager electoral participation since only 150,881 people voted. It is even harder to contrast this figure with that obtained in the primary of the left, where more than 1,750,000 voters participated and the winner, Gabriel Boric, representative of the Frente Amplio, obtained 60.4%, compared to his contender of the Communist Party, Daniel Jadue, who obtained 39.57%. In percentage terms, both leaders clearly won with slightly more than 60% of the votes.
Last August 23, at midnight, the legal deadline to register presidential candidacies expired, where the names of the nine candidates were registered. The electoral law requires independents, representatives of movements or political parties that do not have national representation, to collect 33 thousand signatures that can be registered digitally through the platform of the electoral service. In addition, on the same day, the parliamentary lists of the pacts that will compete for 155 seats for deputies and half of the 50 senators will be renewed were registered. Thus, the presidential race begins with nine competitors and unless any of them surpasses 50% of the preferences, only the first two majorities will go to a second round to be held on December 19. The polls show that three candidates are the most popular: the representative of the center-right coalition, Sebastián Sichel (44), followed by Gabriel Boric (35) of the Frente Amplio and Yasna Provoste (51), representative of the Nuevo Pacto Social (New Social Pact). Marco Enríquez Ominami (48) is added to the center-left; from the extreme right, José A. Kast (55); from the extreme left, Eduardo Artés (69) and from the populist movements, Diego Ancalao (40), Franco Parisi (53) and Gino Lorenzini (39). The latter will subtract votes from the first three but should not affect what are estimated to be the probable majorities that will dispute the first two places to ensure the passage to the final ballot. The months of the campaign will serve to iron out the frictions and disagreements within the coalitions that every electoral competition provokes.
For Provoste and Boric the candidate to defeat is Sichel, who embodies the continuation and way of doing politics of the current president Sebastián Piñera, who is the intellectual author of his candidacy and with whom they share similar characteristics. The former has changed parties twice, is reviled by his former colleagues and heads the right-wing coalition that has governed for the last four years. Piñera, who presented himself in his beginnings as a representative of a renewed right-wing, ended up being a faithful defender of the most conservative sectors. He never wanted a new constitution, he surrounded himself with ministers who were spokesmen and faces of the rejection option in the referendum for a new fundamental charter - like his chancellor Andrés Allamand - he resisted in the first year of the pandemic in a mean and clumsy way to deliver real help to the people, and his government has hindered the full functioning of the Constituent Convention. Now, a few months before the end of his term, in the face of the rebellion of his own sector and to save the private pension system, he agreed to expand fiscal spending as well as to send the homosexual marriage bill, which he hopes will be approved in his government. The right-wing, as it has always shown, is pragmatic when it comes to defend its interests, as it did by taking a single list in the plebiscite, seeking to protect the legacy of the 1980 Pinochet's Constitution.
Today the conditions are given to inflict three significant defeats to the right-wing and conservative sectors: in the presidential elections, in the parliamentary elections and in the drafting of a new constitution, but it is not so clear that this will happen because of the rivalries of the left in general. The ability to divide is not a particularity of Chile or its current leaders. It has been a historical constant in many countries. Today, vision and perspective are required to put the interests of the majority before maximalism and the sometimes-childish impatience of pretending to "take the sky by storm".
The Chilean experience shows us that during the dictatorship it took more than 10 years for the Christian Democrat and Social Democrat sectors, which were the basis, together with others, to defeat Pinochet's 17-year dictatorship, to begin to converge. It is true that the bravery and courage of many who gave their lives using other forms of struggle also contributed, but it was finally with the power of the vote and the understanding between political forces that tyranny was defeated. Citizen protest is and will always be legitimate in a democracy, but not the violence that destroys and inhibits people from marching peacefully, without fear for their integrity or that of their children, so it cannot be tolerated or justified.
Violence has served to overthrow dictatorships and corrupt regimes, but not to forge free and democratic societies, as has been tragically demonstrated. It is a fact that Chile has built a violent society because of its inequalities, segregation, deprivation and abuses against large sectors of the population. Also, by history, starting with the murders, robbery and dispossession of its territory committed against the native nations; or what happened for many families with the endless search for the whereabouts of the disappeared detainees during the civil-military dictatorship. It is precisely for these reasons that we are writing a new constitution, which is the most important thing that has happened in more than two centuries of republic and that cannot and should not be wasted.
Today we have more than 30 parties and movements that declare themselves center-left and left in Chile. The range is very wide and goes from Christian Democracy to the Communist Party Proletarian Action and beyond, reaching the groups that deny the institutionality and legitimacy of political parties, postulating the distancing of "the party machines", the assemblies and/or the chimera of the equal participation of independents in the parliament as a purifying force of the political system. There is no democracy without parties, and it is the power of the citizenry that is responsible with their votes for rewarding those they consider the best. Furthermore, for those who criticize the actions of the parties or public policies, it is necessary to remember that the first act of civic responsibility is to exercise the right to vote. Populism has spread and penetrated political systems in many countries and this is not a new phenomenon.
It is educational to remember that Mussolini's fascism, in Italy, began by claiming that his ideas were "neither of the left nor of the right", but that they sought to represent "the people", to whom they were indebted, as the monumental biography of the Duce, "The Son of the Century", written by Antonio Scurati, so aptly recalls. Today those who arrogate to themselves the representation of the people abound everywhere, but especially in the leftist sectors that speak in the name of the people, "of my people", as they say. Some of them were elected with this discourse in the Constitutional Convention and today they sponsor a presidential candidate. At the end of the day, the existence of so many parties and movements that declare themselves as leftists, guardians of principles and slogans, or real leftists, as they pretend, only contribute to generating more dispersion and that we end up without any leftists and with four more years of right-wing government, which would be the greatest gift from the opposing forces to the current president.